By Betsy Rothstein - 04/18/07 08:21 PM EDT
But so be it. He’s not a TV guy.
“Print is still really important,” he says.
Crowley, 35, is lean with light brown hair and exudes a sort of mellow thoughtfulness. He likes to get away to the country about once a month to clear his head and get a fresh perspective for what can be the brutal Beltway sport of political journalism.
He first interned at The New Republic from 1995 to 1996 and was in the same class of interns as Stephen Glass, the infamous writer who had a compulsive habit of inventing stories and fabricating quotes. (See the movie “Shattered Glass” for the gory details.) Crowley tries to play down the hype of what it was like to work alongside Glass. But he admits it was hard not to be taken with him.
“I thought he was, you know, an entertainingly weird guy who seemed conscientious almost to a fault and the last person you would expect to do something sinister and deceitful,” Crowley says.
Glass, he says, was everyone’s friend. “He was just kind of a wacky character,” says Crowley. “It’s hard to believe someone you knew well, that their life was essentially a lie. Sure, he seemed to have a knack for seeing and experiencing outlandish things. He was kind of a phenomenon.”
How did the movie compare to real life? “The movie was close, but it made him seem cooler than he was,” Crowley says. Still, Crowley was compassionate: “I said, ‘Hang in there, it’s going to be OK.’”
At this point, Crowley insists, Glass’s behavior doesn’t bespeak anything negative about The New Republic.
Crowley’s own brush with journalistic notoriety came during the Jack Abramoff scandal in the spring of 2005, when he secured two exclusive one-hour interviews with the lobbyist for a New York Times Magazine profile. “The ground rule [was] he would talk about his life generally but not get into specifics about criminal allegations, but he kind of did that anyway,” Crowley recalls.
The interviews took place in Abramoff’s now-shuttered restaurant, Signatures, in a private room with a view of the Justice Department. Crowley found that ironic. “It was good, it was high Washington drama,” he says, adding humbly, “I was not the first to write about this, but it was a story that had threads that went so many different directions.”
Crowley traces his natural affinity for political journalism to his father, a political and news junkie who had collected stacks and stacks of The New Republic and The Washington Monthly. Crowley plowed through these magazines. “I just loved the voice of it,” he says. “It just kind of gets in your blood.”
Things can and have gotten bloody. Late last year, after Crowley slammed Michael Crichton’s tome on global warming, State of Fear, Crichton retaliated with another book, Next, in which he created a character based on Crowley: a 30-year-old Washington political columnist named Mick Crowley who rapes his sister-in-law’s infant son. Crowley responded with a story in The New Republic, titled “Cock and Bull.”
Crowley, born and raised in New Haven, Conn., graduated from Yale University, where he was editorial page editor of the Yale Daily News.